February 16, 2016

“They’ll Know We are Christians by Our Love.”

The campfire song goes, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

I’ve never heard the lyrics with substitutes, like, “They’ll know we are Christians because we’re right.” Or because the other person was more wrong (at least according to our smug categorization).

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wasn’t my favorite. I disagreed with many of his views, from gun control to the rights of gays and lesbians. But the relish many took in his death is deeply disturbing. He was a son, a husband, a father, and a friend. He was committed to seeking justice, even if he understood it in a different way than me. He was a legal scholar and a devoted American.

I felt similarly after the death of Osama bin Laden. (Not to lump Justice Scalia in even the same universe!). Death, even if deserved in the case of bin Laden, is not to be celebrated with glee. Even if we loathe the person, we must still summon compassion for those reeling from loss and grief.

In our Episcopal tradition, I cherish the weekly reminder to pray for our leaders in government.

“For our President, for the leaders of the nations, and for all in authority, let us pray to the Lord. Lord have mercy” (The Book of Common Prayer, p. 384). Be assured, that whenever I say this prayer, there are some leaders in the nation that I support with my political views, and others I stridently do not. But scripture spends a lot of time reminding us that we can’t pick and choose which neighbors to love, and that we must pray for our enemies for the sun rises on the evil and the good. “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?” (Matthew 5:46a).

I encourage our congregations to offer special prayers of intention for the family of Justice Scalia and to soften our hardness of heart so, as the song says, “they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

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